Simple-type epithelial keratins are intermediate filament proteins important for mechanical stability and stress protection. Keratin mutations predispose to human liver disorders, whereas their roles in intestinal diseases are unclear. Absence of keratin 8 (K8) in mice leads to colitis, decreased Na/Cl uptake, protein mistargeting, and longer crypts, suggesting that keratins contribute to intestinal homeostasis. We describe the rate-limiting enzyme of the ketogenic energy metabolism pathway, mitochondrial 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA synthase 2 (HMGCS2), as a major down-regulated protein in the K8-knockout (K8(-/-)) colon. K8 absence leads to decreased quantity and activity of HMGCS2, and the down-regulation is not dependent on the inflammatory state, since HMGCS2 is not decreased in dextran sulfate sodium-induced colitis. Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor α, a transcriptional activator of HMGCS2, is similarly down-regulated. Ketogenic conditions-starvation or ketogenic diet-increase K8(+/+) HMGCS2, whereas this response is blunted in the K8(-/-) colon. Microbiota-produced short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), substrates in the colonic ketone body pathway, are increased in stool, which correlates with decreased levels of their main transporter, monocarboxylate transporter 1 (MCT1). Microbial populations, including the main SCFA-butyrate producers in the colon, were not altered in the K8(-/-). In summary, the regulation of the SCFA-MCT1-HMGCS2 axis is disrupted in K8(-/-) colonocytes, suggesting a role for keratins in colonocyte energy metabolism and homeostasis.
© 2015 Helenius, Misiorek, Nyström, et al. This article is distributed by The American Society for Cell Biology under license from the author(s). Two months after publication it is available to the public under an Attribution–Noncommercial–Share Alike 3.0 Unported Creative Commons License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0).